Conference reflections by Rıdvan Çınar, University of Aveiro
One significant issue recently emphasised within the Geography of Innovation is accounting for how universities can contribute to innovation-led regional development. Up until recently, the field was dominated by ‘success stories’ demonstrating case studies of universities that had significant achievements in fostering innovation, while more critical papers looking at the challenges were on the fringe. Therefore, it was very exciting to see that not only the prominence of the role of universities in innovation, (with 27 papers, 6 dedicated sessions and 2 keynote lectures at this year’s edition), but also the papers that are more critical and go beyond heroic assumptions have become more visible.
We saw that in Meric Gertler’s keynote lecture who looked at universities’ evolving roles the challenges they face in fulfilling their evolving roles. Another memorable presentation was from Kwadwo Atta-Owusu and Rune Dahl Fitjar, who displayed that promoting engagement in universities must be addressed carefully with emphasis on organizational fairness and place attachment. It has been rather difficult, until recently, to capture all the challenges that universities face in meeting innovation related expectations. GEOINNO has become a platform through which more critical approaches have started to find a home in the field and this year’s edition GEOINNO 2020 has raised the bar in that regard, enriching the field by foregrounding the challenges for universities in contributing to innovation, thereby generating better and more convincing policies and incentives.